DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
TIMELINE: Takes place somewhere between Natalia's engagement to Frank and the non-wedding.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Spiders and Snuggles
By Purplepapillon


The scream wasn't loud; nor was it long, but it was piercing enough to wake Olivia instantly from her sleep as she sat bolt upright, her mind immediately alert, her eyes wide open and her heart beating rapidly in anticipation.

Her first thought was Emma, but she'd seen her daughter through enough nightmares to know the sound of her screams, and no sooner had the notion entered her mind, than she knew that it wasn't her.


Olivia was out of bed and crossing the landing before her brain had even finished processing the thought. Three seconds later, her fingers were on the handle of the other woman's bedroom door, which she flung open to be greeted by the sight of her closest friend, her hair dishevelled and her face flushed red, shaking her duvet in a frenzy.

"Wha..." Olivia began, but the younger woman did not let her finish the question.

"Spider!" she whimpered, pointing to the floor, where the feeble light of the bedside lamp, which Natalia had knocked over in her haste, just about enabled the older woman to make out a sizeable arachnid, running round in circles, captivated in a frenzy of its own.

Olivia would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, were it not for the distress and panic so clearly etched into Natalia's features, her wide dark eyes imploring the other woman to act. Instinct took over as she grabbed one of the shoes which stood by the wardrobe and brought it down hard on her target. Relinquishing her weapon, she pulled a tissue from the box on the dresser, and with one deft movement, scooped up the mess and carried it from the room, while Natalia looked on, her whole attention rooted on the small patch of floor, even once there was nothing left to see.

Gradually snapping out of her daze, she righted the lamp then slowly pulled apart her bed, shaking the pillows and comforter to check for any more unwelcome visitors. She heard the sound of the toilet flushing and footsteps in the corridor, then suddenly the older woman was in the doorway, eyeing her carefully.

"You're really scared of them, aren't you?"

"Don't make fun of me, please," Natalia pleaded, turning away to hide the tears welling up in her eyes, embarrassed by her vulnerability and still somewhat shaken from her encounter.

"Hey." Olivia's voice was soft and reassuring as she padded across the floorboards to the middle of the room. "I'm not making fun of you. I just never realised." She placed her hands gently on the other woman's shoulders and turned her so that they were face to face, before reaching down and taking the pillow from her hands and replacing it on the bed. "It's gone now."

"I know." Natalia's gaze dropped and her cheeks flushed red again. "It's just..."

"Shhh." Against her better judgement, Olivia responded to her friend's need for comfort and reached up to stroke her face, brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear and tilting her head so that they were eye to eye once more. Her stomach fluttered at the touch, and her breathing quickened as Natalia's brown eyes met hers and she held the other woman's gaze. She could feel herself falling as the well-constructed barriers started to crumble around her, and she knew that the longer she stayed, the harder it would be to let go. Her head was telling her that she should be anywhere but here, that she should run from the room immediately; pretend this little incident had never happened. But her heart was telling her that Natalia needed her, and there was no way on earth that she could walk away from that, however much it might hurt her.

"It's ok," she soothed, pulling back the covers and guiding the other woman underneath them.

"Promise?" Natalia's eyes were hopeful, but her expression was still tinged with fear.

"I promise." Olivia murmured, smiling, her hand hovering over the switch on the bedside lamp. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight," Natalia whispered back, forcing a weak smile, as Olivia turned off the light and walked away from her. She lay stiffly in bed, her eyes not yet accustomed to the sudden darkness, concentrating on the muffled sound of Olivia's footsteps as she walked away and desperately trying to convince herself that the sadness she was feeling was not rejection, but the remnants of shock. She bit down hard on her lip to force back tears, straining her ears for the clicking of the door to know when she could safely give her emotion free rein. The sound never came, however, and instead she felt a slight breeze as the covers were lifted on the other side of the bed and Olivia climbed in beside her.

"You didn't think I'd leave, did you?" Olivia whispered, snuggling in closer to the other woman's back, and wrapping a protective arm around her.

Natalia didn't answer straight away, but Olivia could tell she was smiling as she felt the other woman relax against her.

"I''m ok. You don't have to stay," she eventually murmured, somewhat reluctantly, hoping Olivia didn't take her at her word. She felt the older woman laugh softly beside her and knew that her pretense at bravery wasn't fooling anyone. She was more than glad of it, however, if it meant that Olivia would stay. Her senses, hyper alert from her earlier shock, were now finely tuned to the other woman; she could hear Olivia's soft breathing and feel the warm air on the back of her neck. She could smell the faint traces of the other woman's perfume, left over from the day and her skin tingled in all the places their bodies touched. She allowed herself to be enveloped by the warm arms around her; for once the protected rather than the protector; enjoying the security of the other woman's presence.

Soon it would be Frank's warm body on the other side of the bed; Frank's arms around her; Frank's breath on the back of her neck.

Natalia shivered involuntarily at the thought, and felt Olivia's embrace tighten in response. No doubt Olivia thought that she'd been thinking about the spider. She flushed slightly as she imagined how Olivia might have reacted to her real thoughts. It would all be so easy. All she would have to do was turn round slightly; twist herself so that she was be facing Olivia; then she could reach out and touch her. Could trace the contours of that beautiful face with her hands, as she'd thought of doing several times already that day. She'd only have to move forward slightly, and she could touch Olivia's lips with her own; graze them with the kiss which had been on her mind for weeks. She felt the heat sear through her body at the thought and instantly reprimanded herself. She could not think about this. Not now. Not ever. She closed her eyes, and, lulled by the warm arms around her, eventually drifted into a peaceful sleep.

Olivia lay gazing at the tangle of dark curls just millimetres from her eyes and listening for the regularity of the sleeping woman's breath. She was acutely aware of her proximity to the other woman, of the position of her hands as they rested on Natalia's ribs. A twitch of the thumb would be all it took to brush across her breasts. Olivia closed her eyes as she imagined stroking the soft olive skin, flushing as her body strained towards Natalia's of its own accord; convinced that the other woman must be able to sense her arousal. She'd been fast asleep when she'd first heard Natalia's cry, but now she was wide awake, all of her energy focussed on resisting the urge to run her hands through the other woman's hair; to nuzzle into her neck and kiss the tender skin there.

She knew that she was torturing herself, and she also knew that it would be pointless to ask herself why. As long as Natalia needed her, she'd be there. However much it hurt her, she'd keep coming back. For as long as Natalia wanted her to, and then some. She'd make sure Natalia felt safe, even if it cost her her own night's sleep. For she knew she could never sleep while she was holding everything she wanted right there in her arms. Everything she'd ever wanted but knew she couldn't have. She'd spent so long putting up walls, but Natalia could tear them down with a single look. It took every last bit of energy she possessed to keep constantly reminding herself that Natalia was no longer hers, and to pray that when the time came, she could find the strength to let go without letting go of herself.

The End

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